Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1943, President Roosevelt seized the railroads to avert a nationwide strike. The nation was in the midst of World War Two. During the war, demands on food and other goods drove prices up. The cost of living had grown more than twenty-five percent from 1939 to 1943, but wages did not keep pace.
Railroad workers asked for a wage increase. When negotiations showed little progress, three of the railroad unions announced they would strike. Many unions had agreed not strike during the war, but workers grew increasingly impatient, as they saw industry owners rake in war profits.
Roosevelt's decision to place the railroads under the “supervision” of the War Department prompted the railroad brotherhoods to agree to his offer to arbitrate the wage dispute.
The seizure did not last long. The unions and railroad management came to agreement in mid-January, and the railroad workers won raises with the new contracts.
Today’s labor quote is by President Roosevelt, from Executive Order 9412, seizing control of the railroads:
"If any employees of the railroads now strike, they will be striking against the Government of the United States.”